Commissioners of agriculture in Nigeria’s cassava growing belt have declared weeds as major drivers of low yield in cassava and the main constraint limiting the competitiveness of cassava farmers in the country.
The declaration was made in a communique signed by 14 commissioners of agriculture and issued at the 2018 Annual Review & Work Planning Meeting of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Cassava Weed Management Project themed: “Unveiling of New Technologies for Weed Control in Cassava Farming Systems,” in Ibadan, March 19 to 20, 2018.
Mr Peter Odebunmi, Ekiti State Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, told journalists at the event that “We have a lot of rural farmers who do not know how get the best yield from thier farms. The outcome of this research on weed management will improve the economy of the individual farmers.
Mr Monday Osaigbovo, Commissioner for Agriculture for Edo State, stated that it was high time attention was given to weed control.
“If we do nothing to address weeds, we won’t be able to transform cassava in the country,” he said.
The commissioners noted that to change the cassava narrative, there was the urgent need for collaborative efforts with IITA Cassava Weed Management project, Federal Government, State Governments, the Private sector, national research institutes, universities, and other stakeholders.
Though Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava, the yield of cassava is low with FAO reporting a national average for Nigeria of 9.1 tonnes per hectare (ha) compared to Asian countries where yields are more than twice Nigeria’s national average.
Among the cost variables to cassava production, weed control takes 50 to 80 per cent of labour budget.
Over the last four years, the IITA Cassava Weed Management Project with donor support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has developed innovative packages to control weeds in cassava.
Results presented by the Project Leader of the IITA Cassava Weed Management Project, Dr Alfred Dixon, showed that by switching to the innovative packaged developed by the Project, Nigeria farmers could record more than 20 tons per ha, up from 9 tons per ha being reported by FAO as Nigeria’s national average.
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